Everywhere you turn, there’s advice on how to keep the spark alive in your romantic relationship. Women’s magazine covers shout, ‘6 Ways to Jumpstart Your Relationship’ and ‘How to Know He’s the One.’ That’s nice and all, but what about our OTHER totally meaningful relationships? Our BFF relationships? I’m just as interested in keeping my friendships healthy, and, after sorting through all the top advice on maintaining a romantic relationship, I made a surprising discovery: much of this advice actually works BETTER for BFFs! Here are some of my favorites:
Do regular date nights
A consistent date night is the most important thing a couple can do to maintain a healthy, fun, and interesting long-term romantic relationship. But this is just as important, if not more so, for best friends. While texting and Instagram can be a great way to keep in constant touch, consistent face-to-face time is so, so important for a friendship. By setting aside a ‘date night’ where you leave the partners, roommates and work baggage behind, you can show your bestie just how important she is to you. Plus, just having ‘times’—even if it means watching The Notebook for the tenth time together—helps remind you guys why you fell for each other in the first place.
Everyone always says you should be open and honest with your partner, and that’s great. But it’s really crucial to be truthful with your BFF. They are your universal sounding board, and the foundation of a strong friendship really is the ability to tell each other anything. If you’re feeling the urge to lie to your BFF than something’s astray. Since BFFs love you unconditionally until the end of time, nothing you could tell them should scare them off. Respect them enough to give ’em the truth every time.
As relationships settle into their groove, it’s easy to start half-listening to stories. While this famously happens in marriages, it also happens in friendships. No matter what the topic, give your BFF your undivided attention—even if you’ve heard their tales before.
Respect each other
Successful long-term relationships always include a ton of respect: of boundaries, of time, of feelings, etc. The same holds true for BFF friendships. It’s easy to start getting snippy or short with someone you’ve known forever. But just as you would with your partner, show your BFF some respect. Be kind, be respectful.
Don’t take each other for granted
This is a biggie—particularly for those who’ve been friends for a long, long time. Don’t be the BFF that never initiates a phone call or a text chat. Don’t assume your BFF will be there without some work from you. Friendships require participation from both parties. Don’t forget to carry your load. Everyone’s heard that “relationships take work,” but we sometimes forget that the same goes for friendships.
Pick a partner who makes you laugh
When choosing a mate, wise people will advise you to find someone who makes you laugh. Laughing strengthens the bond between couples and has been attributed to the success of long-term relationships. Guess what? Laughing is even more important to friendships. Without the other stuff that comes with romantic relationships, humor really is the glue that keeps you bonded together. Your friends are there to help you find the funny when you need it most. No matter what the two of you are going through, it’s important to keep cracking each other up. Your bestie is the person you can let it all go with, the person who can make you laugh until you snort, until your belly hurts, until tears run down your face. And when that happens, you know you guys have something really special.